Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Since a 1998 article published in the medical journal The Lancet argued that childhood vaccines–specifically the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine–can cause autism spectrum disorders (ASD), debate has crested and fallen, ebbed and flowed. Neither the retraction of the article–partially in 2004 and fully in 2010–nor the failure of any scientist since to replicate author Andrew Wakefield’s findings has dissuaded some who still believe that autism may be caused by vaccines. In fact, earlier this year a study came out reporting that parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children–partially or entirely because of the autism fear–are rarely persuaded to change their opinions even in the face of solid scientific evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.
Study after study has been published in the intervening years confirming no link between vaccines and autism. Meanwhile, amid growing numbers of families who do not have their children vaccinated, outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases are on the rise. This year, measles cases have reached a 20-year high, and whooping cough was declared an epidemic in California.
This week, a new study was published, once again vindicating vaccines of having any causal relationship with autism. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study reviewed a large of body of scientific findings and concluded that parents should be reassured about vaccines’ safety. More from HealthDay News:
The researchers behind the new study also found no link between childhood leukemia and vaccines for MMR, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), tetanus, influenza and hepatitis B.
Overall, vaccines given to children 6 or younger are safe, causing few side effects, the review concluded. The findings are published in the July 1 online edition and the August print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
“We found that the serious adverse effects linked to vaccines are extremely rare,” said lead author Margaret Maglione, a policy analyst at RAND Corporation.
These findings should provide solid support for pediatricians and family physicians in their discussions with parents about the benefits and risks of immunization, said Dr. Carrie Byington, a professor of pediatrics and vice dean of academic affairs and faculty development at the University of Utah College of Medicine.
In an accompanying editorial, Byington noted recent medical school graduates have reported themselves more skeptical of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines than did older graduates.
“I’m hopeful younger physicians who have not seen the devastating vaccine preventable infections may see the data and strengthen their will to communicate the importance of vaccines to parents,” Byington said.
Image: Child getting vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Autism, autism spectrum disorders, epidemic, measles, MMR, vaccine safety, Vaccines, whooping cough | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, New Research, Parenting News
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
As a growing number of states are legalizing marijuana or considering legislation to do so, pot’s public profile is on the rise–and so is its presence on Twitter and other social media sites. A new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research has found that a number of those tweets are reaching young people each day, with hundreds of thousands of American youth getting pro-pot messages through their Twitter feeds multiple times a day.
The study, which was conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, followed a Twitter account, Weed Tweets@stillblazintho, which has 1 million followers. Analyzing data over an 8-month period, during which time the group posted an average of 11 tweets a day, the study reported that 73 percent of the group’s followers were under age 19.
ScienceDaily has more:
“These are risky ages when young people often begin experimentation with drugs,” explained [principal investigator Patricia A.] Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry. “It’s an age when people are impressionable and when substance-use behaviors can transition into addiction. In other words, it’s a very risky time of life for people to be receiving messages like these.”
Cavazos-Rehg said it isn’t possible from this study to “connect the dots” between positive marijuana tweets and actual drug use, but she cites previous research linking substance use to messages from television and billboards. She suggested this also may apply to social media.
“Studies looking at media messages on traditional outlets like television, radio, billboards and magazines have shown that media messages can influence substance use and attitudes about substance use,” she said. “It’s likely a young person’s attitudes and behaviors may be influenced when he or she is receiving daily, ongoing messages of this sort.”
The researchers also learned that the Twitter account they tracked reached a high number of African-Americans and Hispanics compared with Caucasians. Almost 43 percent were African-American, and nearly 12 percent were Hispanic. In fact, among Hispanics, Weed Tweets ranked in the top 30 percent of all Twitter accounts followed.
“It was surprising to see that members of these minority groups were so much more likely than Caucasians to be receiving these messages,” Cavazos-Rehg said, adding that there is particular concern about African-Americans because their rates of marijuana abuse and dependence are about twice as high as the rate in Caucasians and Hispanics.
The findings point to the need for a discussion about the pro-drug messages young people receive, Cavazos-Rehg said.
Image: Tween holding a tablet, via Shutterstock
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Drugs, legalized marijuana, marijuana, pot, social media, substance abuse, tweets, Twitter | Categories:
Child Health, Parenting News, Safety, Trends
Monday, June 30th, 2014
The bizarre story of a live-in nanny who reportedly refused to leave a California family’s home for weeks after she was fired appears to have concluded, as news sources are reporting that Diane Stretton has left the home.
Marcella and Ralph Bracamonte of Upland, California say they fired Stretton a few weeks after they hired her, claiming she was refusing to work because of health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The story took its strange turn at that point, when the Bracamontes allege that Stretton refused to accept her firing, remaining in her room in the family’s home and only coming out to eat. When the Bracamontes presented her with a letter requiring she leave their home within 30 days, they say Stretton, who is 64 years old, responded that she would sue the family for elder abuse and wrongful firing. A call to the police by the family proved fruitless, as police declined to get involved in a “civil matter.”
The Bracamontes have three children, who are ages 11, 4, and 1. Their agreement with Stretton was reportedly that she would care for the children and do some housework in exchange for room and board.
According to ABC News, the story took yet another bizarre turn when Stretton went to a local police station after leaving the Bracamontes and said she was being followed (she was–by a photographer). She left the station but allegedly hid in her car outside the station for hours before leaving.
More from ABC on the story, including emerging details about Stretton’s history of filing lawsuits that are later deemed to be frivolous (she is on California’s Vexatious Litigant List):
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Lt. John Moore of the Upland Police Department confirmed to ABC News that there is no immediate action that can be taken against Stretton, saying “generally, once somebody has established residency, you have to go through a formal eviction process.”
While Stretton initially refused to leave the Bracamonte home, Marcella Bracamonte confirmed to ABC News that Stretton disappeared from the home early Thursday morning.
“She left around 7 a.m. yesterday morning and she never came back,” Bracamonte told ABC News on Friday.
The former nanny was not seen until Friday, when she was spotted by the press as she arrived at a local police station according to KABC-TV.
It was unclear whether Stretton would return for her belongings or file suit against the Bracamonte family as they claimed she threatened to do.
Court documents obtained by ABC News revealed that Stretton was involved in at least six lawsuits in Riverside, Calif., since 2005, four in which she was the plaintiff, one in which she was the defendant and one in which she was the petitioner.
Friday, June 27th, 2014
There’s no doubt that the discussion about gun control and gun violence has increased since the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown two years ago.
A new study (“Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths“) just released by Everytown for Gun Safety reveals that between December 2012 and December 2013 at least 100 kids (younger than 14 years old) across the nation have died as a result of accidental shootings. Toddlers (ages 2 to 4) were more likely to die from self-inflicted shooting while school-age kids (ages 12 to 14) were more likely to die from a peer shooting.
The Huffington Post reports:
Unintentional shootings of children occurred most often in places familiar to those who were killed. Eighty-four percent of victims were killed in their home, the home of a friend, or the family car, according to the study. In 76 percent of the cases, the gun belonged to a parent or other family member.The killings occurred more often in small towns and rural areas than in cities. They occurred in 35 states.
The findings from Everytown came from an extensive review of news stories and subscription services in the 12 months following the December 2012 shooting in at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six school employees. Researchers with the group followed up with law enforcement officials in cases where there was any ambiguity. If it remained unclear whether the shooting was accidental, the researchers did not count it.
As a percentage of total victims of gun violence, children who are unintentionally killed is quite small. But the 100 shootings over the course of the year averages out to almost two per week.
Part of the problem, Everytown argues, is poor education about the dangers of firearms and how to safely store them. The group advocates “well-tailored child safety” laws, including those “imposing criminal liability” for irresponsible gun storage. The report cites Florida’s “Child Access Prevention” law as one to emulate.
Image: 9 mm gun on wooden table via Shutterstock
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gun, gun control, gun laws, gun safety, gun violence, guns, handguns, Newtown, Newtown tragedy, Sandy Hook Elementary, school shooting, school shootings | Categories:
New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now, Safety
Thursday, June 26th, 2014
A Harvard University survey of school-aged kids has found that 80 percent of children believe that their parents care more about happiness and academic and athletic achievement than moral attributes like kindness. The survey collected opinions from 10,000 children from 33 school districts nationwide, and though researchers were not surprised that kids reported parental concern about their happiness, they were taken aback by how strongly children perceive their parents’ attention to be focused on achievement as a priority. More from Today.com:
Students said that achievement was the most important value and thought their peers would agree. More importantly, students reported that their parents appreciated achievement much more than happiness or kindness. They were three times as likely to agree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member.”
This means kids think much less about being nice than they do about getting an A on a test, winning a swim meet, or being best camper. Yet, all this focus on accomplishment doesn’t lead to content kids.
“The achievement pressure can have a bunch of negative results,” says Weissbourd, who is co-director of the Making Caring Common project. “I’m concerned that it makes kids less happy.”
Weissbourd says living up to this standard causes stress and depression and can lead to bad behaviors, such as cheating. Studies have found that 50 percent of students admit to cheating and 75 percent say they have copied someone else’s homework, possibly in an attempt to live up to expectations.
But, teaching children about caring can enrich their lives.
“I think that the irony is that when kids are caring and really able to tune in and take responsibility for other people, they are going to have better relationships,” he says. “And those relationships are probably the most important aspect of happiness.
Image: Straight A’s report card, via Shutterstock
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